WordCamp and Education

WordCamp US is happening right now. This is one of the main events for the WordPress community, where we do the State of the Word address. Check out how a worldwide community of creatives comes together.

https://twitter.com/hashtag/WCUS 

https://2016.us.wordcamp.org/

WordCamps are chock full of professional development and inspiration for project-based learning.

https://2016.us.wordcamp.org/schedule/

We livestream it for free.

https://2016.us.wordcamp.org/live-stream/

After the event, all videos and slides go up on WordPress.tv.

https://wordpress.tv/category/wordcamptv/

This is a trove of learning, all for free. When we work and share in the open, we change life scripts.

The State of the Word for 2016 is coming up later today.

http://wordpress.tv/?s=state+of+the+word

@charlie3 and @camworld, educators bringing open to schools, are both at WCUS. @camworld is speaking on WordPress for Schools.

I mention @camworld and the Newark school district here.

https://hypubnemata.me/2016/08/05/communication-is-oxygen/#wordpress

And, I mention @charlie3 and Penn Manor here.

https://hypubnemata.me/2016/11/03/the-open-schoolhouse/

https://hypubnemata.me/2016/08/05/communication-is-oxygen/#the-open-schoolhouse

Presentations of interest to education

I’ll update this as slides and videos are uploaded.

BuddyPress as the Foundation for Training, Distance Learning and Support for Business and Government

The Open Schoolhouse

Update: An updated version of this post is available on my main blog.

The Open Schoolhouse is a candid story and practical guidebook for school administrators and educators seeking affordable and powerful technology programs. Follow Penn Manor School District’s open technology journey from the server room to the classroom. Learn how open source software and values helped the district cut costs, design a one-to-one laptop program, and create an internationally recognized student help desk.

The Open Schoolhouse tells the story of collaboratively iterating a school district toward open, 1:1 technology.

We believe this act of human collaboration across an open platform is essential to individual growth and our collective future.

I think of Moodle and WordPress as fraternal twins. Passionate and ingenious founders with ardent beliefs in free and open source software created both software platforms. Global communities of programmers, designers, and end users drive the development of both platforms. They use similar web technologies (LAMP), and subscribe to principles of simplicity and ease of use. They are credited with creating, and disrupting, entire industries. And they made dramatic impacts on our students, teachers, and staff.

Locked-down technology is a symptom of an education model designed for student compliance and defined by the incessant measurement of learning. A factory-like school system values what a student has purportedly learned on a linear path, as demonstrated by a standardized test score. Technology device restraints and restrictions lock students on the assessment assembly line, at the cost of a child’s curiosity and intellectual freedom. Computers were once the spark for a child’s imagination. Now, they are a testing apparatus for assessment monarchs.

The destructive confluence of decimated school budgets, neurotically locked-down technology, and lockstep assessment mandates is taking a toll on progressive educators—and disempowering students.

There is also a deeper ethical problem: reliance on closed source proprietary software teaches students a lesson of dependence on secret technology they are powerless to examine, study, share, and improve upon. If the social mission of schools is to amplify student potential, disseminate knowledge, and prepare students to have an impact on the world, then schools have a duty to help kids be free thinkers and self-reliant architects of their futures.

Source: Reisinger, Charlie (2016-09-29). The Open Schoolhouse: Building a Technology Program to Transform Learning and Empower Students. Kindle Edition.

Charlie Reisinger (@charlie3), author of The Open Schoolhouse, is a good resource on open learning, service learning, 1:1 laptop programs, student help desks, school IT, and WordPress in education.In his school district, Penn Manor, student IT apprentices write code, write documentation, image laptops, and provide helpdesk support. Their code and docs are open source and available on GitHub.

Here are some videos on Penn Manor’s approach to the open schoolhouse.

Mr. Reisinger poses the vitally important question, “Which side of the command line should our kids be on?”

Locked-down technology is a symptom of an education system designed for student compliance and defined by the incessant measurement of learning. A factory-like school system values what a student has purportedly learned on a linear path, as demonstrated by a standardized test score. Technology device restraints and restrictions lock students on the assessment assembly line, at the cost of a child’s curiosity and intellectual freedom.

Source: How leveraging open source solutions helps give students in-demand skills | Opensource.com

Given unfettered permission to revise, remix, and redistribute curriculum material, teachers are trusted to become active agents in the creation of high-quality learning materials.

At Penn Manor School District in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, Linux and open source software are the foundations for more than 4000 student laptops, classroom computers, and district servers. We’ve saved hundreds of thousands of dollars by going open source in both the server room and the classroom.

To #GoOpenSource means more than simple cost savings for underfunded schools. Like openly-licensed education material, open source values invite collaborative and participatory learning. When a school culture honors learning by doing, students become active agents in their education, and they contribute to the school community in innovative new ways.

Source: Schools that #GoOpen should #GoOpenSource

Penn Manor open sources the work of its student IT apprentices. Their code and docs are available on GitHub.

For more on the open schoolhouse and open technology, see Communication Is Oxygen.

Here’s another handful of favorite quotes from the book.

Open-minded teachers like Christa gave our apprentices an opportunity to build self-esteem and leadership skills that would transfer to a myriad of careers, whether related to technology or not. Most compelling, I think, is that a whole new school culture emerged. The roles of student and teacher blurred. The classroom hierarchy flattened. We were becoming an open schoolhouse.

Project-based learning? Check. Everything the student apprentices created was part of an authentic technology project. Challenge-based learning? Absolutely. We had four months to do something the high school has never done. How about 20 percent time? Certainly. Innovation was encouraged 100 percent of the time. Hour of code? Plural. Our apprentices were about to log hundreds of hours of programming time. We had created a paradise for student hackers.

Without a course rubric, curriculum, or end-of-unit test, they created software destined to impact 1,725 of their peers, and eliminate hundreds of staff hours typically wasted on manually sorting and scheduling students into sessions.

What if our classrooms pushed aside lecture and standard curriculum, and reorganized as a community of practitioners working toward a common goal? What if every high school junior worked just like a journalist or technologist?

The flat-world technology revolution asks us to rethink our notion of what it means to be educated and literate in the 21st Century. However, one traditional skill remains unchanged: the ability to artfully and effectively self-express through writing. Blogs, reports, essays, and Tweets; writing across multiple modalities is learning made visual–and a full keyboard is still the most efficient tool to hone this skill.

Schools, it seems, are holding computer policies upside down. They shackle incredible, open-ended learning technology in digital chains. An air of distrust hangs over the device and the student. The practice cripples learning and students’ autonomy. Repressive computer device management policies crush learner agency and intellectual freedom.

What I love so much about open source philosophy, and what I strive to replicate on the help desk, is the participatory, inclusive environment where traditional power structures dissolve and students are empowered to act, contribute, express, learn, and think. Together as a team, students and staff shape the world around them. Once we stop treating students like data banks waiting for downloads, once we trust students as equal partners in their education, and once we empower students to contribute to their school community, the open schoolhouse emerges.

DSISD Commons #5

DSES Website

To build a project-based learning culture compatible with work, prioritize communication. Tool for communication, collaboration, iteration, and launch. Bring students, teachers, and tech workers together to do_action education.

Source: DSES Website

Creative Leadership

  • inspiration > authority
  • carrots > sticks
  • networked > hierarchical
  • nonlinear > linear
  • iterate > plan
  • risk > order
  • real > right
  • open > closed

Source: Creative Leadership

The Open Schoolhouse

The Open Schoolhouse is a candid story and practical guidebook for school administrators and educators seeking affordable and powerful technology programs. Follow Penn Manor School District’s open technology journey from the server room to the classroom. Learn how open source software and values helped the district cut costs, design a one-to-one laptop program, and create an internationally recognized student help desk.

The Open Schoolhouse tells the story of collaboratively iterating a school district toward open, 1:1 technology.

We believe this act of human collaboration across an open platform is essential to individual growth and our collective future.

I think of Moodle and WordPress as fraternal twins. Passionate and ingenious founders with ardent beliefs in free and open source software created both software platforms. Global communities of programmers, designers, and end users drive the development of both platforms. They use similar web technologies (LAMP), and subscribe to principles of simplicity and ease of use. They are credited with creating, and disrupting, entire industries. And they made dramatic impacts on our students, teachers, and staff.

Locked-down technology is a symptom of an education model designed for student compliance and defined by the incessant measurement of learning. A factory-like school system values what a student has purportedly learned on a linear path, as demonstrated by a standardized test score. Technology device restraints and restrictions lock students on the assessment assembly line, at the cost of a child’s curiosity and intellectual freedom. Computers were once the spark for a child’s imagination. Now, they are a testing apparatus for assessment monarchs.

The destructive confluence of decimated school budgets, neurotically locked-down technology, and lockstep assessment mandates is taking a toll on progressive educators—and disempowering students.

There is also a deeper ethical problem: reliance on closed source proprietary software teaches students a lesson of dependence on secret technology they are powerless to examine, study, share, and improve upon. If the social mission of schools is to amplify student potential, disseminate knowledge, and prepare students to have an impact on the world, then schools have a duty to help kids be free thinkers and self-reliant architects of their futures.

Reisinger, Charlie (2016-09-29). The Open Schoolhouse: Building a Technology Program to Transform Learning and Empower Students. Kindle Edition.

Recognizing the deficit model

This image is actually a great example of deficit thinking — an ideology that blames victims of oppression for their own situation. As with this image, deficit thinking makes systemic forms of racism and oppression invisible. Other images, like the one of different animals having to climb a tree, or of people picking fruit, suffer from the same problem. How would we make these root causes more visible in our “equity vs. equality” image?

Well, if we began with the metaphor of the fence, this would require making clear that the reason some people have more difficulty seeing than others is not because of their height, but because of the context around them.

Source: The problem with that equity vs. equality graphic you’re using | Cultural Organizing

Keep grit, bootstrap, and deficit ideology out growth mindset. Growth mindset without structural ideology, restorative practices, and inclusion can be more harmful than helpful. Do not use growth mindset to shift responsibility for change from our systems to children. The practice and implementation of growth mindset has been suborned by deficit and bootstrap ideology. Develop an authentic voice based on diversity & inclusion, neurodiversity & the social model of disability, and structural ideology instead of propagating the untempered language of the latest deficit/bootstrap fad. Inclusion and structural ideology are the way forward. Growth mindset as commonly implemented is just another bootstrap metaphor that excuses systems from changing and learning.

Source: Growth Mindset and Structural Ideology – hypubnemata

Surveillance in Education

“In the educational domain we see a lot of normalisation of designing computers so that their users can’t override them. For example, school supplied laptops can be designed so that educators can monitor what their users are doing. If a school board loses control of their own security or they have bad employees, there’s nothing students can do. They are completely helpless because their machines are designed to prevent them from doing anything.”

“We have this path of surveillance that starts with prisoners, then mental patients, refugees, students, benefits claimants, blue collar workers and then white collar workers. That’s the migration path for surveillance and students are really low in the curve. People who work in education are very close to the front lines of the legitimisation of surveillance and designing computers to control their users rather than being controlled by users,” Doctorow says.

Surveillance in education can also interfere with the educational process, he says, because “nobody wants to be seen fumbling. When you are still learning, you don’t want to feel like you are being watched and judged.” Doctorow adds that, due to their lack of power, students have limited options to take control of their learning and the digital tools they use.

“I talk to students, often younger students, who say they don’t worry about surveillance because they know how to block it out; they use a proxy or something else. But, first of all, those students can get in a lot of trouble for it. In America, they could actually be committing a crime and they could go to jail for it. It also doesn’t solve the overall problem; it only solves it for them. So I’ve often said to students that rather than breaking the rules, they document the absurdity of the rules and demand that adults account for it.”

“The censorware companies mostly work in the Middle East in repressive regimes who buy it on a mass scale to try to control the flow of information in their countries. Students should contact journalists, the school board and the parents’ association and ask why they are giving money that was meant to be for their education to war criminals who spy on us.”

Source: “Peak indifference”: Cory Doctorow on surveillance in education | OEB Newsportal

Building welcoming communities

Open source communities have been iterating on community and collaboration for decades. Education can learn from the history, good and bad, of open source communities. Onboarding, recognition, inclusion, managing trolls and toxic contributors.

1. Be Safe

It doesn’t matter how fun and amazing your project is, if people don’t feel safe — they won’t contribute. Security is a hygienic factor — make sure it is good enough. You want a Code of Conduct. Contributor Covenant is a great resource for this, but refrain from just copy & pasting. Take a moment and read it, and make sure you document how you will enforce it and be prepared to enforce it.

3. Be Inclusive

Use simple language (Hemingway can help). List all professions like “Design”, “Editorial”, “Documentation” instead of saying “Non-Coding”. Use gender-neutral language, prefer “them” and “they” over “him” and “she”. Avoid phrases like “Hey guys”.

5. Stickers

People love stickers 🙂

Source: Welcoming Communities

When we rally around a common goal and share our work with others, we create something new, something that we can be proud of sharing, something that can change and transform our world. This is the spirit of the open source community.

The accretion of individual contributions, the additive effect of cooperation, and a community growth mindset makes open source compelling for educators. As we will discover, the open source community model shares considerable similarities with a vibrant learning community. It takes a village to raise a child; it also takes a community to cultivate and grow great software. It turns out that hackers are outstanding members of the open source community.

open source principles signify “a sense of humanity between every single individual by acting as a unified medium for collaboration, and the ability to contribute to any cause by the power of your voice and actions. In education, this philosophy is essential, as no singular concept, whether programming or academic practice, stands to be perfect.”

Open source allows people to transcend tribalism and belong to a true cosmopolitan community resolute on the improvement of life standards through all-inclusive access to technology. The use of open source in our schools benefits the community through the growth of its user base. This base is in constant renewal when new generations of students enter our school population every year. All these students will carry in their minds, at the very least, the awareness of the usefulness of open source; many of them will carry over to their professional careers such awareness. We are truly seeding the open source mentality in our community.

We were initially attracted to free and open source software because of the cost savings, but ultimately, it was the spirit of open that liberated our students and opened our schoolhouse.

Source: The Open Schoolhouse – Building a Technology Program to Transform Learning and Empower Students

There are codes of conduct for contributing to the open source foundations of the internet. The Contributor Covenant is widely used and representative of an emerging consensus on codes of conduct for distributed collaboration. The covenant is compatible with structural ideologyrestorative practices, neurodiversity, the social model of disability, and real life.

Source: Contributor Covenants, Codes of Conduct

Privacy and Passwords

I updated my password primer with a reference to the new NIST password rules.

Update: The NIST recently announced new password rules that recommend sites allow a maximum length of at least 64 characters. 1Password updated its password generator to support a 64 character maximum.

At most schools, student identities are protected by weak passwords trivially derived from usernames and reused everywhere. Once someone gets ahold of your email password, they can reset your passwords elsewhere and pwn your life. When you reuse passwords, a data leak on a forgotten site can be escalated into takeover of your email and your identity.

Source: Privacy and Passwords – Ryan Boren

DSES Website

At the bottom of the This Week at DSE emails from DSES is this footer.

This is a reminder that DSES needs a website. AFAICT, This Week at DSE is delivered only via email. This misses a lot of people. All of the This Week at DSE emails should be on a website so that school messaging is transparent and accessible. With these posts published to the web, they can be auto publicized to social media, consumed by feed readers, and digested and newslettered however the user sees fit. The district website offers some space to DSES, but the district website is inaccessible cronyware that doesn’t afford DSES a blog, usable syndication feeds, or many of the amenities of a modern content management system.

I happen to know a bunch of open source geeks who like to give software, hosting, and labor away to good causes. Let’s bring “communication is oxygen” to DSISD one site at a time, starting with DSES. With WordPress (disclaimer, I work on WP for a living), sites can get a free and easy start on wordpress.com and later migrate to a self-hosted environment should the district graduate into student IT running a multisite WordPress instance integrated with district systems. Open technology that offers syndication feeds, content export, public apis, and open source community will grow with your school and district as we iterate toward project-based learning and collaboration in the commons.

To build a project-based learning culture compatible with work, prioritize communication. Tool for communication, collaboration, iteration, and launch. Bring students, teachers, and tech workers together to do_action education.